The government on Tuesday asked the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and other civic bodies to maintain their expenses by charging the domestic and commercial water customers from January 1, 2003.
Municipal affairs and urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya said the move follows the decision to cut back on the subsidy, given to the CMC and other civic bodies, from January. The government had earlier given Rs 106 crore to the CMC, the CMDA and the Calcutta Metropolitan Water and Sanitation Authority (CMWSA) for water-supply schemes, but got back only Rs 30 crore from them, Bhattacharya said. The rest — Rs 76 crore — was put down as subsidy.
The government had also decided to exempt charitable institutions, government-sponsored schools and colleges from such charges. “It has now become mandatory for all civic bodies to collect water charges from the citizens and help the government reduce subsidy on water-supply schemes. The municipalities that fail to collect water charges will get less grant from the state government,” Bhattacharya said.
For domestic consumers, the minimum and maximum charges will be Rs 30 and Rs 120 per month, respectively. For non-domestic users, the minimum charges per month will be Rs 3 per kilolitre and Rs 15 for industrial and commercial establishments. The registered housing cooperatives will have to pay Rs 4 for consumption of per kilolitre of water, the minister added.
The government has also fixed the rates for new connections. For domestic connections, charges will vary from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000. Non-domestic users will have to pay a minimum of Rs 2,000 for getting such lines, Bhattacharya added. He said that while the CMC had failed to pay the government Rs 300 crore since 1983, the CMDA and CMWSA had failed to pay Rs 368 crore to the government.
“We have also decided to give incentives to the civic bodies which help the government reduce the subsidy on this account. The state government spent nearly Rs 2.25 crore for the Salt Lake municipality, which is responsible for the supply of drinking water in the area. The municipality can easily collect water charges from the citizens, most of whom are well-off, and save the government’s expenses,” he added.
The dues of the various civic bodies run into crores. For example, South Dum Dum municipality has to pay the government Rs 2.65 crore, North Dum Dum Rs 1.74 crore and Titagarh Municipality Rs 62 lakh. “We have also instructed all municipalities to initiate measures to repay the government loan as soon as possible. We will strictly implement the West Bengal Levy of Fee, 2002, from tomorrow,” Bhattacharya added.